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Stories of Recovery: A Different Meaning of ‘AA’

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 06:00

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery blog series. TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

My ideal resume would read as the antithesis of conventional resumes. I’d memorialize both my darkest secret and most crowning achievement: “2016: Following an extended period of self-harm, substance abuse, and a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis, I enrolled in intensive therapy treatment. I simultaneously studied for the Texas bar exam. After my time in therapy and multiple attempts, I passed the Texas bar exam. I became a lawyer.”

My personal story of recovery utilizes a different meaning of “AA”: accountability and activity.


As fitness guru Tony Horton says, “I hate it! But I love it!”

I don’t think anyone truly “likes” accountability, but we certainly love what it does for us! We become more stable and fulfilled.

During my inpatient therapy, I was forced to check in with my counselor daily and document which coping skills I had used the night before. I spent the mornings at therapy and the afternoons studying for the bar exam at my parents’ house. I reluctantly asked my dad to check in on me every 50 minutes for a progress update. Before every study session, I recorded myself reading positive affirmations aloud. I felt dumb uttering saccharine phrases I didn’t believe in.

“I see my name on the list of passing students.”

“Hah … yeah, right.”

However, after over a month of begrudgingly reading sentences aloud and meticulously documenting coping skills, it all became pleasantly routine. There was a brightness in the monotony called “stability.”

Today, I have to keep some semblance of structure in my life; else, my BPD brain will run this train right off the tracks. I am accountable to my therapist bimonthly. I downloaded habit-tracking apps on my phone. I am open with close friends and family about recovery.

Accountability isn’t easy and lawyers often have the hardest time asking others for help. I guarantee you, though, despite some feelings of embarrassment, it works wonders.


I read this striking quote on Pinterest: “Everyone needs three hobbies: one to make money, one to keep them creative, and one to keep them fit.” (Who would’ve thought I’d be gathering my life-guiding principles from a social media website fraught with never-ending pictures of houses and clothes I can’t afford!)

This pithy statement is correct: our bodies are engineered for movement. Our brains love stimulation. Sitting down in my office chair all day, making that rear-end imprint on the seat even deeper, drove me nuts. My eyes would glaze over staring at the screen for so long. Exercise quickly became the antidote for inactivity. It became my sanctuary; my one hour during which no one could bother me or scold me. I treat that hour as sacred. My phone is stashed away; it’s only my muscles and I working in harmony to keep me strong and sane.

You don’t have to run in oppressive Texas heat or join an expensive spin class you actually hate to be fit. Just move.

Similarly, I highly recommend picking up a creative activity. I’m biased because I have always loved the performing arts. However, your activity of choice doesn’t have to be “artsy fartsy” if that sounds unbearable to you. Merely engage in an interest devoid of “the law.” Your brain will thank you.

Recovery is not merely the summit of a mountain. You don’t reach “Recovery Peak,” stick your flag in the ground, shout “I’ve done it” and go home. While victory is part of the process, recovery is a life-long journey through peaks and valleys. As I write, I happen to be in a valley. I know it is temporary and the only way out is through.

The other night I decided to get a dose of pure positivity by watching the new documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about the late Fred Rogers. He said something that struck me deeply: “I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be. … Everyone longs to be loved. The greatest thing we can do is help somebody know that they are loved.”

Lawyers, relentlessly subjected to incredible pressure and unrealistic expectations, need to be reminded of this foundational maxim: that they are loved as they are.

It is my hope that in sharing my recovery story, dear reader, you will gather some helpful tips.

More importantly, know that I love you for who you are right now.

HBF, HVL to hold legal clinics for Harris County residents impacted by Harvey

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 08:00

The Houston Bar Foundation and Houston Volunteer Lawyers will hold four free legal clinics for people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The clinics, which take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 18, mark the one-year anniversary of the storm and will provide one-on-one legal advice on related issues.

Volunteer attorneys from Houston law firms and corporate legal departments will provide advice on insurance, FEMA appeals, contractor abuse, mortgages, landlord/tenant issues, family law matters, replacing lost documents, probate, clear home ownership, and other legal issues.

Attendees who need continued legal representation must be Harris County residents and have a household income of no greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline. No appointment is necessary.

“A year after Hurricane Harvey, some Houstonians are still suffering and dealing with legal challenges. The Houston Bar Foundation and Houston Volunteer Lawyers are putting on these clinics in hopes of providing needed assistance,” Houston Bar Foundation Chair Barrett Reasoner said in a press release. “We are fortunate to have received a grant from the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers that helped make this possible.”

• Southwest Multi-Service Center, 6400 High Star Dr., Houston 77074
• Mangum-Howell Center, 2500 Frick Rd., Houston 77038
• Northeast Multi-Service Center, 9720 Spaulding St., Houston 77016
• Magnolia Multi-Service Center, 7037 Capitol St., Houston 77011

The clinics are possible through a grant from the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers and co-sponsored by the HBA, Houston Health Department, and Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle.

TYLA, young lawyer affiliates receive national awards

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 15:56

The Texas Young Lawyers Association and young lawyer affiliates in Dallas and San Antonio earned national awards August 3 at the 2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago.

TYLA, the public service arm of the State Bar of Texas, was recognized with 2017-2018 ABA Young Lawyers Division Awards of Achievement in the public service and diversity categories for its Hurricane Harvey disaster relief resources and its annual Diversity Dinner.

TYLA’s disaster relief resources included guides in English and Spanish on topics such as replacing lost documents, filing claims for federal disaster assistance, hiring a contractor, and employment during a natural disaster.

The 2017 Diversity Dinner, held July 27 in Houston, featured a keynote address by Houston lawyer Diana Marshall and an overview of TYLA’s project I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too!, a video series highlighting the contributions of first-generation lawyers. The 2018 Diversity Dinner, held May 22 in Austin, featured a “Legal Legends” panel discussion with Texas Supreme Court Justice Paul Green, 261st Civil District Court Judge Lora Livingston, former State Bar of Texas President Lisa Tatum, and Austin attorney Steve McConnico.

Dallas Association of Young Lawyers received an award for its newsletter, The Dicta. San Antonio Young Lawyers Association received three awards: a comprehensive award for overall programming, a public service award for its Hurricane Harvey disaster response legal clinics, and a bar service award for The Balcony: The Trial of Lee Johnson, attorney Lee Cusenbary’s one-act play based on a 1913 local murder trial.

“I am so proud of our Texas young lawyers, who continue to set the standard for young lawyer organizations across the country,” said 2017-2018 TYLA President Baili B. Rhodes. “Our members dedicated countless volunteer hours to these projects because they have a passion for public service, and I am thankful to the ABA Young Lawyers Division for recognizing their exceptional work.”

Municipal judge tapped to help educate judiciary on mental health matters

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 15:54

Judge Edward J. Spillane III

The State Bar of Texas’ Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program has taken the innovative step of adding a sitting judge to its staff of experts to reach out to fellow jurists about issues such as stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, and other mental health matters.

The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) has always served judges as well as lawyers and law students, but TLAP Director Bree Buchanan notes that less than 1 percent of the annual calls received by the program come from judges.

Buchanan is confident that the addition of Judge Edward J. Spillane III, a former member of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and frequent speaker at judicial education conferences, can help TLAP reach out to the judiciary about behavioral health issues. Judge Spillane will work with TLAP as an independent contractor.

“We’re excited to have Judge Spillane’s help in carrying the message to our Texas judiciary that TLAP is available for them, whether to provide confidential assistance for themselves or to assist an impaired lawyer in their court,” Buchanan said.

Judge Spillane has been the presiding municipal judge for College Station since 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago.

He has written several articles on the plight of indigent defendants and the benefits of mindfulness in the courtroom. In his position with TLAP, he will focus on outreach to the judiciary on topics such as prevention of substance use, mental health disorders, cognitive impairment, burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as strategies for the promotion of well-being.

Read the full news release here.

A Guardian of the Greens

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 12:00

William J. Brotherton, third from left, with, from left, Richard McDermott, deputy chief marshal of Royal Portrush; Ian Frier, deputy chief marshal of Carnoustie; Gary Hawker, chief marshal of Carnoustie; Chris Smith, assistant deputy chief marshal of Carnoustie; and Euan Kerr, assistant deputy chief marshal of Carnoustie at the British Open. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

Denton County attorney William Brotherton enjoys spending time on the golf course. After 13 years serving as a gallery guard on the 14th hole at the Masters, Brotherton has seen some of the best golfers in the world play. So when an opportunity to serve as a marshal on the 16th hole at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland for the British Open presented itself, Brotherton jumped at the chance to see some of these greats play a different course. Brotherton, who has links to the United Kingdom through his heritage to Lord Edward Brotherton, is also a member of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi in Vermont and an adopted member of the Spirit Lake Sioux of North Dakota. His Native American heritage excited the organizers of the Open, who invited Brotherton to be the first Native American marshal of an Open. Here, Brotherton talks about his passion for the sport and his experience working the event in Scotland.

How did you get the opportunity to work at the British Open?

Brotherton working the tournament on the 16th hole holding the “quiet please” paddle. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

Having worked at the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia for the past 13 years on the 14th hole, I had become a big fan of Jordan Spieth. So while watching the Open last year, I was on the edge of my seat as Jordan pulled out a victory—after making some miracle shots—at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. I was inspired. The very next day I tracked down the head pro at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland where the next Open would be held. I briefly described my golf background in an email and asked to be considered as a marshal at the next Open. I was amazed at how quickly I received a response from Chris Smith, who is the deputy chief marshal for the Open. Chris told me that he’d do his best to get me on, and he did. I was approved to work as a marshal by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, or the R&A, the governing body of golf outside of the U.S. and Mexico (it’s the United States Golf Association, or USGA, in the U.S. and Mexico) and provided a waiver by the National Health Service. Chris was able to find a golf club, the Piperdam Golf Club near Carnoustie, to sponsor me to work on the 16th hole. It all came together nicely. I’ve been invited back to work as a marshal at the Open being held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in 2019. It will be very historic as this is the first Open being held in Northern Ireland in over 65 years, and I certainly want to be there.

Your heritage is English and Native American, which both had significance at the Open. How did it feel to be working the British Open in regards to your heritage?

Brotherton spent three nights in Kilcoy Castle in Scotland before working the British Open. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

The Scots working the Open were intrigued by my heritage. When I first inquired about serving as a marshal, I mentioned that I was a member of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi in Vermont and served on tribal council. That opened a lot of doors because they had never had a Native American serve as a marshal at the Open. And the fact that I’m an adopted member of the Spirit Lake Sioux in North Dakota made it even better. They even had a Carnoustie hat made up for me with my Sioux name “Iron Horse” (Tasunka Masa in Sioux) embroidered on the back. My new friends were fascinated that years ago, my wife and I had visited the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. Lord Edward Brotherton founded the Brotherton Library and left his personal collection of books and manuscripts in trust for the university. When we visited, the curator of the library, Chris Sheppard, gave us a high tea to celebrate our visit and confirmed that I was a distant relative to Lord Brotherton. It was quite an honor, especially when Chris allowed us to handle valuable items from the collection, including first editions of Shakespeare and a lock of Mozart’s hair. So, in addition to calling me Iron Horse, my friends at Carnoustie also called me “Sir William.” Great fun!

What was it like working at the Open?

Brotherton at the finish of the British Open. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

It was an honor to work at the oldest golf tournament in the world. I was happy to be there, and everyone was incredibly friendly. Golf is a universal sport shared by almost every country in the world. When I would talk with the fans, their first comment was usually, “You don’t sound like you’re from Scotland.” Many, especially those from America, quickly recognized that I was a Texan from my accent, and everyone spoke highly of Texas. The golf at the Open was incredible under somewhat difficult circumstances—it had been hot (for Scotland) and dry and the officials were especially concerned that the Americans would have a field day with a course that could produce 400-yard drives on such hard fairways. But that didn’t happen, and as it turned out, it was not an American who won but an Italian. Everyone couldn’t have been nicer, and they were happy to have me there. And that was especially true at the Open campground, where I stayed in a roomy tent at the Carnoustie High School football field. Sleeping on an air mattress in Scotland is something everyone should experience at least once in their life, and the campground was a mix of young and old and people from everywhere. The campground was well run and included not only a bar in a teepee-like structure but also food trucks featuring a variety of good food, including of all things, barbecue. The owners were quite proud of their smoker, manufactured in Ennis, Texas. And the brisket was tasty!

You’ve previously worked the Masters for quite a number of years, how does it compare to working the Open?
The Open is a public tournament open to everyone, and from what I gathered, the ticket prices are very modest. Unlike Augusta, anyone can walk up to the ticket office at the Open at any time during the tournament and simply buy a ticket. With Augusta, you typically have to have a family connection, win badges through the lottery (paying face value for the badges), or purchase the badges on the open market where you will pay considerably more than the face value of the badge. The Masters is held at the same venue every year, and the number of patrons is regulated. Bobby Jones, the founder of the Masters, was always concerned about having too many people at a tournament diminishing the value of watching golf. There are no such restrictions at the Open because typically the events are held at courses that can hold a great number of people, and it’s a different venue every year. But it certainly didn’t feel crowded at the Open because there was more than enough space to accommodate all of the gallery. And let me mention the food as well. At Augusta, you enjoy a pimento cheese sandwich, an egg salad sandwich, or barbecue, along with the beverage of your choice and dessert items such as a peach ice cream sandwich. At the Open, it was fish and chips, Yorkie pie, sausage rolls, and large roast pork sandwiches. One of the biggest differences between the two tournaments is the fact that at the Open, marshals hold up a “quiet please” paddle whenever a player is about to hit his ball. No such signs are used at Augusta—after 82 years of the tournament being held at the same location every year, the signs simply aren’t needed. Indeed, gallery guards, as marshals are called at the Masters, rarely even need to raise their hands for quiet. Thankfully, at both tournaments, you just don’t hear many people screaming “get in the hole” or “mashed potatoes—something you tend to hear at other U.S. tournaments.

It was a rather close finish to the tournament on Sunday. Any particularly exciting moments at the 16th hole?

Tiger Woods getting ready for his tee shot on the 16th hole. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

What made working at the 16th hole so much fun was that it is considered one of the toughest, if not the toughest hole, in the tournament. With sand traps on both sides of the green—deep and treacherous—and a narrow green that slopes to send a player’s ball off the green with even what seemed to be perfect shots, it was a hole that was hard to master by anyone. Tiger Woods and Jordan both bogeyed the 16th, and many players coming to the 16th had good rounds going until they bogeyed or worse on 16. What really got all of us on 16 excited was the fact that it sure looked like there was going to be a playoff—at one point there were four or five players tied for the lead including Jordan and Tiger. And the playoff holes are, in order, 1st, 16th, 17th, and 18th. It’s sudden death, and the players continue playing 18 until a winner is determined. So, our hole was going to be in the middle of the playoff, and we started bracing for the onslaught of fans. Then, it got even stranger. Apparently, at the Open, it’s a tradition that once the match is finished, the fans are free to run all across the golf course. As marshals, we were asked to stop this, and it was easier said than done. But it was all part of working the Open and what made it so much fun!

Did you do any other activities while in Scotland and away from the course? Any sightseeing?

Brotherton swimming in Loch Ness. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

Absolutely. This was not my first trip overseas, but I was excited to see more of the U.K. on this trip. Previously, I had taken depositions in London in an insurance fraud case and taken a train to Edinburgh after the depos and rented a car to play a few courses in Scotland. However, this time, I wanted to see more. My brother, Matt, and I got to Edinburgh a week and half before the Open and drove to Cairnryan on the west coast of Scotland to take the ferry to Belfast to see Northern Ireland and Ireland. Thankfully, driving on the wrong side of the road came back quickly to me. It was a challenge to drive, especially on narrow Irish roads, with two lanes—probably the equivalent of one-and-a-half of a Texas road lane. To make matters worse, there were typically stone walls right up to the edge of the roadway, and you cringed every time you encountered heavy goods vehicles (tractor-trailers) and tour buses. Despite all that, we covered 2,000 miles throughout Ireland and Scotland, and we enjoyed the spectacular Cliffs of Moher in the Republic of Ireland, visited Dublin and Killarney, and played the seaside courses of Tralee and Lahinch. My brother, who doesn’t golf and didn’t want to drive, ended up walking the courses with me. In Scotland, we stayed at a good friend’s castle for three days. The day we arrived was spent exploring the 17th-century structure and its secret passageways, drinking a dram of whiskey with the estate manager to celebrate our safe arrival, and having a specially prepared dinner of salmon steaks. The following day we explored Loch Ness, visited Urquhart Castle, and swam in the Loch. It was exhilarating because the temperature was only 54 degrees and the water temperature was 46 degrees, but we had to do it! That evening we had the traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties. Haggis is a spicy dish made from sheep organs, while neeps are smashed turnips, and tatties are simply mashed potatoes. During our stay at the castle, I also played two additional seaside golf courses—Royal Dornoch and Fortrose. After all that, it was back to Edinburgh where I dropped both my brother and our car off at the airport. I then took the tram into Edinburgh and hopped onto one of the frequent trains to Carnoustie via Dundee. Just riding the trains through the Scottish countryside and cities brought back great memories of riding in locomotives and cabooses when I was a brakeman/conductor for the Burlington Northern Railroad some 40 years ago. When I stepped off the train in Carnoustie, I walked to the golf course to get my security briefing and following the briefing, started enjoying my assignment as a marshal on one of the toughest golf holes in the world.

William J. Brotherton is the principal of the Brotherton Law Firm, a six-attorney civil litigation firm located in Highland Village. Brotherton is licensed in both Texas and North Dakota. He taught environmental law for 12 years at Texas Christian University, and is the author of Burlington Northern Adventures: Railroading in the Days of the Caboose (South Platte Press, 2004). For more information, about the Brotherton Law Firm, go to brothertonlawfirm.com and for the book, go to bnrailstories.com.

Sponsored Content: Launching One-Click Document Editing

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 23:01

Every click counts, especially when it comes to your workday. This month, some thoughtful new additions to Clio will help you complete your day-to-day tasks in fewer clicks—so you can run your law firm more efficiently and keep your business profitable.

First, there’s Clio Launcher, which makes it incredibly fast and easy to edit documents from Clio. We’ve also added the ability to quickly edit payments in Clio when needed, and updated our Accounts Receivable Aging Report to make it even simpler to manage collections.

Read on for these and more updates.

Clio Launcher: The easiest and fastest way to edit documents from Clio

Get excited: With Clio Launcher, you can edit files in your favorite document editor with one click from Clio! Editing any type of document on the fly, while keeping everything organized by matter, has never been simpler.

Here’s how it works:

  • Click the new launcher icon beside a document to open the document-editing software installed on your device. This works with any file format you have software for—from Word, to Excel, to PDF, and more.
  • Make your edits.
  • Close your document.
  • See your new version instantly appear in your Clio Documents folder—without you having to think, or click, twice.

It really is that easy. You’ll save hours on document editing, while keeping all document versions organized, and ensuring everyone in your firm is on the same page.

To access Clio Launcher today, simply navigate to Clio Documents and install the new launcher tool.

Learn more about Clio Launcher.

Easy payment editing

In a perfect world, all payments to your firm would be recorded 100% accurately, and you’d never need to change a thing. But the world isn’t perfect, and sometimes changes need to be made.

With the new ability to edit payments in Clio, you can quickly and easily edit payments recorded manually (e.g., direct payments or payments from trust) for single invoices. In other words, you can rest easy knowing you have the tools to make sure your payment records are accurate.

Read the full article for more recent updates from Clio.


Pro bono assistance requested for asylum seekers in the El Paso area

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 14:44

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center is looking for pro bono attorneys to travel to El Paso for at least a week to provide much needed direct legal services on the ground.

Immigration experience is a plus, but not required. Volunteers will be directly assisting detained asylum seekers in greater El Paso with their asylum claims.

To learn more and fill out a short form confirming your interest, please click here. Direct questions to Volunteer Pro Bono Coordinator, Melanie Gleason, Esq. at melanie@las-americas.org.

Additionally, the State Bar of Texas’ web page Texasbar.com/volunteer contains resources and information about how lawyers can volunteer or donate to several organizations working to reunite families separated at the Texas border.

Dallas Bar Association wins ABA Partnership Award

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 12:00

The Dallas Bar Association was awarded the 2018 American Bar Association Partnership Award on July 31 in Chicago. Pictured are, from left, DBA Executive Director Alicia Hernandez, DBA President Michael K. Hurst, and Pamila J. Brown, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Services and Activities. Photo courtesy of the Dallas Bar

The American Bar Association Committee on Bar Activities and Services recognized the Dallas Bar Association as the recipient of the 2018 ABA Partnership Award on July 31 in Chicago. The award was presented in relation to DBA’s work on the DBA WE LEAD program.

WE LEAD, or Women Empowered to Lead in the Legal Profession, is a DBA program in partnership with the Dallas Women’s Foundation and the Dallas Women Lawyers Association. The program is led by DBA President Michael K. Hurst and DBA Vice Chair of the Board Shonn Brown.

The WE LEAD program seeks to address challenges facing women in the legal profession; to empower, educate, and uplift them to take a successful legal practice to new heights; and to prepare lawyers for leadership roles in their law firm, business community, and the communities in which they live.

For more information about the DBA WE LEAD program, go to dallasbar.org.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Tomball

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 10:46

Veterans can receive free legal advice at a clinic hosted by the Houston Northwest Bar Association, the Montgomery County Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative on Saturday, August 11.

The clinic will offer veterans and spouses of deceased veterans advice and counsel from volunteer attorneys in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits. Those who qualify for legal aid and are in need of ongoing legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney to take their case.

The clinic, which does not require an appointment, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tomball VA Outpatient Clinic, 1200 W. Main St., Tomball 77375.

For more information, go to hba.org or contact the Veterans Legal Initiative at (713) 759-1133.

To view a list of other free veteran legal clinics around the state, please go to the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans webpage at texasbar.com/veterans.

State Bar receives national award for improving legal services to low-income Texans

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 14:26

The State Bar of Texas was presented a prestigious 2018 Harrison Tweed Award on August 3 at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The Harrison Tweed Award recognizes bar associations that have made extraordinary efforts to improve the availability of civil legal services or indigent defense services to people living in poverty. Named for an outstanding leader in the promotion of free legal services to people living in poverty, the award was created in 1956 by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA).

The State Bar of Texas was honored for the sum of its legal services efforts, including disaster response efforts after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017, several pro bono assistance programs, and the creation of the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator.

“We are honored to receive a 2018 Harrison Tweed Award,” State Bar of Texas Executive Director Trey Apffel said. “The State Bar of Texas works every day to assure all citizens equal access to justice, which is a key part of our mission.”

Click here to read the full news release.

Free CLE on disaster legal services, FEMA appeals planned for McAllen area

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 12:59

Several state, local, and national bar associations; disaster legal services providers; and the city of McAllen are coming together to educate lawyers and the general public in the McAllen area on FEMA appeals processes and disaster legal services in general.

The free seminar, “Disaster Legal Services and FEMA Appeals CLE,” will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m. August 24 at the McAllen Convention Center, 700 Convention Center Blvd. Attorneys will receive 2.5 hours of CLE credit (including .5 hours of ethics) and training on how to handle a FEMA appeals case.

The primary goal of the event is to educate lawyers and better prepare them to assist the residents of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Jim Wells counties who are struggling to recover from devastating floods that occurred in late June. The event is open to the public for educational purposes, but the lawyers in attendance will not be able to answer specific legal questions or provide legal advice.

Click here to RSVP to attend. For a look at the full program, including topics and speakers, click here.

The event is hosted by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, Hidalgo County Bar Association, Hidalgo County Young Lawyers Association, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, and the city of McAllen.

The federal disaster declaration for Cameron, Hidalgo, and Jim Wells counties due to flooding that occurred June 19 through July 13 makes federal funding available to affected individuals in those counties. The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover. Lawyers and legal aid services are often needed to assist individuals with the application process as well as handling appeals after a denial.

Back to school savings

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 08:00

Your Member Benefit Program has everything you need for the first day of school. Visit the Education and Moving Services pages to start saving.

  • All Campus – You and your family have access to significant tuition savings when you enroll in select online degree and certificate programs through one of the All Campus partner schools.
  • ABCmouse.com – ABCmouse.com is the most comprehensive digital learning resource for children ages 2-8. State Bar of Texas members save 30% on subscriptions.
  • Budget Truck Rental – Hello, easy moving. Goodbye stress. Save 20% on base rates for all Budget truck rentals.
  • SAS Curriculum Pathways – Available at no cost to you, SAS Curriculum Pathways provides interactive tools, resources and apps on the core disciplines for grades K through 12.
  • Veritas Prep SAT – Veritas Prep offers twice the course hours of competitors and four official SAT practice tests. Save $100 on any Veritas Prep SAT 2400 course.
  • The Learning Experience – An academy of early education, the Learning Experience enriches the lives of children from 6 weeks to 6 years old. All State Bar of Texas members receive 10% off tuition at any participating location.
  • U-Pack – With coverage across the United States and Canada, U-Pack specializes in long-distance moving services. You can save $60 on your next move.

Current offers provided by Beneplace.

For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.

State Bar of Texas – Benefits & Services

#LawyerVacay highlights

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 15:00

Here are some of our favorite #LawyerVacay submissions so far. We want to see how you spend your time away from the office and focus on your well-being! Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #LawyerVacay. Not on social media? Email us at tbj@texasbar.com.

Chad Ruback of Dallas sent us this photo on Twitter of him enjoying tubing on the Guadalupe River with his wife and daughter Kennedy, who is less than a year old.

Paul of Houston sent us these pics of him hitting the links.

#LawyerVacay highlights

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 15:00

Here are some of our favorite #LawyerVacay submissions so far. We want to see how you spend your time away from the office and focus on your well-being! Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #LawyerVacay. Not on social media? Email us at tbj@texasbar.com.

Chad Ruback of Dallas sent us this photo on Twitter of him enjoying tubing on the Guadalupe River with his wife and daughter Kennedy, who is less than a year old.

Paul of Houston sent us these pics of him hitting the links.

Southwest Jewish Congress to honor Lisa A. Genecov at annual fundraiser

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 15:41

Lisa A. Genecov, who is head of healthcare transactions at Norton Rose Fulbright, will receive the Audrey Kaplan Inspiring Women of the Southwest Award presented by the Southwest Jewish Congress.

The event celebrates volunteerism and diversity. Genecov has volunteered at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, as well as serving as a board member, vice chair, and chair of the fundraising agency’s lawyers division and pacesetters and young leadership societies.

She has also chaired and co-chaired several committees and was a member of the council of the American Bar Association Health Law Section. Genecov is a co-founder of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas School of Law.

The Southwest Jewish Congress will also honor science educator Donna C. Perce and education leader Gary Griffith with its first lifetime achievement awards.

“We want SWJC to be known as an educational, philanthropic organization,” event co-chair Cindy Ray said.

The event takes place at Eddie Deen’s Ranch, 944 S. Lamar St., Dallas 75202. Sponsorships are available at $20,000, $10,000, $15,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000.Ads and congratulatory messages can be placed in a tribute book—the deadline is August 9.

Ticket prices:

  • Individual: $75
  • Priority Seating: $150
  • Student: $45

Attendees may choose the honoree(s) they want to acknowledge by making a donation; honorees then are asked to name a charity of their choice. Through the SWJC 50/50 Donation Program, donations the night of the fundraiser are shared between the charities and SWJC. The event also helps fund SWJC’s programs, which are free and open to the public.

For more information, call Susan Myers at (214) 361-0018 or go to swjc.org.






Texas Board of Legal Specialization names chair, board members

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 15:30

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or TBLS, named William Frank Carroll of Colleyville as board chair and Tina Amberboy of Austin and Lisa Bagley Brown and Diane Dillard, both of Houston, as board members.

Carroll is an adjunct law professor at SMU Dedman School of Law and a faculty member for the NITA Trial Skills and Deposition Skills Program. He has served on the TBLS board since 2016 and was chair of the Civil Trial Exam Commission from 2009 to 2016. Carroll is a past director of the State Bar of Texas and has also chaired the State Bar’s Antitrust and Business Litigation Section, the Dallas Bar Antitrust and Trade Regulation and Business Litigation sections, and the FBA Federal Litigation and Antitrust and Trade Regulation sections. He has been board certified in civil appellate law since 1990 and civil trial law since 1992.

“I am excited about the opportunity to continue the work of former TBLS Board Chair David Dickson,” Carroll said in a press release. “We have an excellent group of board members and an outstanding executive director in Leo Figueroa. I look forward to working with all of them on maintaining TBLS’ highest standards of ethics and professionalism while ensuring the most competent legal representation for the public, organizations, and businesses statewide.”

src=”https://blog.texasbar.com/files/2018/07/Amberboy-129×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”129″ height=”150″ class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-10823″ />Amberboy is the executive director of the Children’s Commission, part of the Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families at the Supreme Court of Texas. <img She is also a co-founder of the Austin Bar Association Section of Court Appointed Family Attorneys and a member of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, the National Association of Counsel for Children, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Amberboy serves on the Department of Family and Protective Services Public-Private Partnership.

Brown handled litigation, drafting, and negotiating upstream and midstream agreements as managing counsel to Occidental Oil and Gas for 12 years. She was a senior attorney at Burlington Resources Oil & Gas. Brown has been board certified in oil, gas and mineral law since 1990 and is a member of both the State Bar of Texas and the Louisiana State Bar.

Dillard founded the Dillard & Ray Law Firm in 1987, where she was involved in the purchase, development, leasing, and sale of properties for local, regional, and national clients, and previously served as an associate to Vinson & Elkins. She has been board certified in commercial real estate law since 1987. Dillard was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Real Estate Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award from the State Bar of Texas Real Estate, Probate & Trust Law Section, or REPTL. She was elected to the American College of Real Estate Attorneys in 1993 and served as chair to REPTL from 2000 to 2001.

To learn more about TBLS, go to tbls.org.

The Dog Tag podcast talks TLTV

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 09:00

Former State Bar of Texas President Terry Tottenham talked about the importance of the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans program during a recent episode of The Dog Tag podcast.

“We’ve reached and serviced more than 28,000 veterans and veteran family members up to now in Texas alone,” said Tottenham. “We have over 9,000 lawyers who’ve contributed their time thus far.”

In 2011, Tottenham and the State Bar of Texas implemented the statewide program that provides pro bono civil legal assistance to veterans and their families who otherwise cannot afford legal services. Texas has the second-highest population of veterans in the nation, and a distressing number of Texas veterans are living in poverty or without homes. TLTV was modeled after a similar program launched by the Houston Bar Association.

Veteran Matt Elledge interviewed Tottenham for the podcast, which is sponsored by the Texas Veterans Land Board. Tottenham said the program’s “Clinic-in-a-Box” contains all the materials someone would need to set up a clinic for veterans. Interested attorneys can also go to texasbar.com/veterans to get information on how to start a veterans clinic. Attorneys looking to volunteer at a clinic can view see a current schedule of clinics here.

The legal services provided by the clinics run the gamut, but Tottenham said the greatest demand for legal services is in the area of family law.

To learn more about TLTV, go to texasbar.com/veterans.

Stories of Recovery: ‘The Scariest and Most Amazing Gift’

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 06:00

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery blog series. TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

A little over four years ago, I believed my life was over. Not because of the consequences from my drinking, but because I knew I could not go on with drinking the way I did.

But what would be the point of living if I did not have alcohol?

I am not sure if I progressed into drinking alcoholically or if I ever had control, but when I took the first drink, I had little to no control over the amount I would drink or what I would do.

I was in my last year of law school and, although I drank almost every night regardless, my only coping skill was to drink when I felt any sort of pain or anxiety. The next morning, I would always swear I would not drink that day, but by that evening, I would be in line buying wine. Not only would I continue to drink through the night, I often drove to get more alcohol or to party with other people just to not feel so alone.

Even though I knew when I drank that I would binge and make dangerous or risky decisions, I still felt determined that I could control my drinking and behavior afterwards, because I could not imagine living without alcohol. So I kept drinking. I drank before classes and during finals.

In between graduating law school and starting to study for bar review, I was arrested and charged with a DWI. I swore to my family and friends that I was done. Beyond the criminal consequences, I knew my family and friends were angry and afraid, and I knew I would be facing potential consequences with my license to practice. Because I knew I had nothing else, I went to a psychiatrist who prescribed me Xanax.

I felt trapped, hated myself, and was extremely suicidal. I ended up using Xanax like I drank and also drank again. All within a week, I ended up being admitted into treatment for depression.

After leaving treatment, I decided to continue with outpatient treatment and bar review. I did not feel like I had time to stop. While in both treatment programs, it was recommended to me that I go into Alcoholics Anonymous. However, I told them that I could not because I did not believe in “God” and the steps mention a “Higher Power.” I also did not want to stay stopped forever. I was then told that as part of defending my criminal case, I needed to go to meetings. A week after I started attending meetings, I was told to get a sponsor.

Getting into recovery has been the scariest and most amazing gift I have received. I walked into a room full of people who appeared normal and yet talked about feelings and things they had done that I had felt and done. I never had that connection with anyone I had met before.

At that point, I only wanted to receive my family and friends’ forgiveness and to get rid of the potential criminal and licensure consequences so that I could get back to what I wanted to do. I am so grateful that because of the pendency of my case, I had time to sit and listen.

I learned that alcoholism is a progressive and fatal disease. I later learned through a program at the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program that although it was not my fault that I received this disease, I had a responsibility to the world to recover. I started to work the steps and eventually wanted to be sober for me. This was long before I found out what would happen to me with people, my case, and my license to practice law.

Service is the biggest part of my recovery today. I sponsor and also am part of TLAP’s peer assistance program. I am a young attorney who feels a sense of responsibility to be of service to other young attorneys. I find it staggering that 30 percent of attorneys under age 30 drink alcoholically.

Today, I no longer feel shame or self-hatred, but I do have tools when I start to feel afraid or overwhelmed or start to obsess about work or life in general. I can honestly say that I feel happy, joyous, and free. I would not have that if I continued to drink.

I truly believe I would not even be living today, let alone feeling any sort of freedom. And that is what I wanted. Freedom. I just had to be willing to listen and follow the suggestions of someone else who described my drinking and feelings as their own at one point, but who had somehow gained a life of peace without drinking.

Now, I get to share my own experience, strength, and hope with others who have a chance to recover from such an insidious disease. I can contribute to life and not feel like life disfavors me, as I once did.

I love my life today.

Dallas Bar Association dedicates 28th Habitat for Humanity house

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 09:00

The Dallas Bar Association dedicated its 28th Habitat for Humanity house on July 21. The DBA began building homes for Habitat for Humanity in 1991.

The DBA’s Home Project Committee coordinates the build and is led by co-chairs David Fisk, of Kane Russell Coleman Logan, and Michael Bielby Jr. of Vinson & Elkins.

Donors for this year’s house include:
• Gold Hard Hats ($5,000 and more): Baron and Blue Foundation; Thompson & Knight Foundation; and Vinson & Elkins.
• Silver Hard Hats ($3,000 to $4,999): Cozen O’Connor; Drinker Biddle & Reath; Kane Russell Coleman Logan; and Vistra Energy.
• Bronze Hard Hats ($1,500 to $2,999): Austin Industries; Canterbury, Gooch, Surratt, Shapiro, Stein, Gaswirth & Jones; Clark Hill Straburger; Cokinos Young; Cutler-Smith; DBA Bankruptcy & Commercial Law Section; DBA Construction Law Section; DBA Criminal Law Section; DBA Health Law Section; DBA Real Property Section; Gerstle Minissale Snelson; Gordon Reese Scully Mansukhani; Griffith Davison & Shurtleff; Jackson Walker; John C. Ford Inn of Court; Lewis R. Sifford; McCarthy Building Companies; McGuire, Craddock & Strother; Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr; Nixon Jach Hubbard; Peckar & Abramson; Slates Harwell; Stuber Cooper Voge; The Kenrich Group; Underwood Law Firm; and Weinstein Radcliff Pipkin.

For more information about the Dallas Bar Association, go to dallasbar.org. To learn more about the Home Project Committee’s work with Habitat for Humanity, go to facebook.com/DBAHomeProject.

State Bar of Texas seeks public input on transparency efforts

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 16:18

The State Bar of Texas is seeking public input on its communications and transparency efforts. Members of the public are invited to take a short survey, available at texasbar.com/publicsurvey through August 6, where they can evaluate the State Bar’s public communications and provide feedback on areas for improvement.

The State Bar Board of Directors voted unanimously on June 20 to hire the Texas-based independent advisory firm Weaver to complete an objective examination of the State Bar’s transparency efforts and to make recommendations for improvement. As part of its review, Weaver is conducting separate surveys of State Bar members and the general public.

Joe K. Longley

“The State Bar of Texas, as an administrative agency of the Supreme Court, is committed to being a leader in open government,” State Bar President Joe K. Longley said. “Your input is essential to this effort and will be used by Weaver in making its recommendations to the board.”

The public survey is 11 questions long and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. While aggregated survey results will be shared with the State Bar of Texas, individual responses will remain anonymous.

Texas lawyers can take the State Bar of Texas member survey by logging on to My Bar Page at texasbar.com and clicking on the black button in the lower-right corner of the dashboard labeled “Transparency Survey.”

If you have any technical difficulties accessing or completing the survey, please contact Matt Paske from Weaver at (972) 448-9257 or matthew.paske@weaver.com.